Michael Imperioli tells AARP about his new show Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector, based on thrillers that sold 50 million copies, and the legacy of his Emmy-winning Christopher Moltisanti role on The Sopranos.
Why Lincoln Rhyme is a cool show
People really love detective shows, especially set in New York. This is a gritty procedural like Law & Order or SVU, with a classic puzzle mystery story in the vein of Sherlock Holmes and the great literary detectives.
Between a quadriplegic and a hot detective
I play the partner of Lincoln Rhyme (Russell Hornsby), who's home, basically paralyzed from an attack by a serial killer called the Bone Collector. I bring him back to the NYPD as an adviser. A young detective with a gift for profiling (Arielle Kebbel) becomes almost the physical avatar of Lincoln on the crime scenes. I'm Detective Rick Sellitto, the middleman between the two.
Hometown: Mount Vernon, New York
Surprising Accolade: He won Food Network’s 2014 Chopped Tournament of Stars
Author, Author: His novel about an Imperioli-like teen befriended by Lou Reed, The Perfume Burned His Eyes, was hailed by Joyce Carol Oates.
Notable Detectives: Rick Sellitto on Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector; Nick Falco on Law & Order; Ray Carling on Life on Mars; Detective Louis Fitch on Detroit 1-8-7.
Detective Sellitto vs. Detective Rhyme
Lincoln Rhyme is the Mozart of crime solving. He relies on a vast knowledge of New York City, its transportation system, its architecture. My character relies more on an instinctive feel, trying to read aspects of human beings, filtered through a New York vibe.
Why he won't read The Bone Collector books
I'm not basing Sellitto on someone fictional. I'm trying to base it on someone who's real.
In 2002, I was drinking too much and smoking. Tae kwon do and meditation really helped me quit smoking and get healthier. I don't do my vegetarian diet for health, though there are health benefits. I don't like killing animals.
Loving an empty nest
My kids are 18, 22 and 29 — adults. There's some attachment to the memories you have of them being kids, but now we get to hang out as pals. They've become more friends than dependents.
The Sopranos will never die
A whole other generation is discovering it, especially kids in their early 20s who were too young to watch it in 2007. It can transcend time — it's not stuck or forgotten or dated. Pretty cool.
Moonlighting as a writer
I wrote an independent film, several Sopranos episodes, cowrote Spike Lee's movie Summer of Sam, wrote a short story in The Nicotine Chronicle, and a novel, The Perfume Burned His Eyes. I'm doing readings this year for my book with actors and musicians at Joe's Pub and the Public Theater. I've been producing and directing theater since I was in my 20s. Since I started in the business, I've worked on personal projects that don't make money and acting jobs that do.
Watch It: Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector (NBC, Fridays, premieres Jan. 10 at 8 p.m. ET)